Tag Archives: unprotected sex

Why Don’t More People Use Condoms?

Most of us know that condoms are great at preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, so why aren’t more people using them? The most common reasons why people state they don’t use condoms are:

  • It takes away from the moment
  • It smells or tastes bad
  • Some men lose their erection
  • Reduces pleasure for both men and women
  • They don’t have one when they decide to have sex
  • Their partner will think they don’t trust them if they ask to use a condom
  • Their partner will think they sleep around if they ask them to use a condom
  • Fear of being identified as “high risk”

Man unwrapping condom, woman lying on bed in background, close-up of hands, close-up

All of these are valid reasons, but there is more to it. Most people know at least a little bit about the risks of unprotected sex and the consequences, but someone’s “Perceived risk” is a bigger factor in whether they choose to protect themselves. Education by itself is not enough to change behavior. Our personal beliefs on how likely we are to become infected with STI’s or pregnant play a much bigger role in whether someone uses a condom use. The components of these beliefs are part of the Health Belief Model listed below which can help an individual or medical provider address sexual risk and behavior.

Perceived Susceptibility People will not change their health behaviors unless they believe that they are at risk. Ex: 
If someone doesn’t think they are risk for STI’s they won’t use a condom.

Perceived Severity 
The likelihood that someone will change their behavior depends on the severity of the potential consequences. Ex: I had a pregnancy scare and now I always use a condom.

Perceived Benefits 
People won’t change their behavior if there isn’t something in it for them.
 Ex: I really like the way it feels without a condom and partner doesn’t make me use one.

Perceived Barriers People won’t change their behavior if they think it will be hard. Ex: My partner and I have already had unprotected sex and I can’t start using condoms now.

Self-Efficacy The extent or strength of one’s belief in one’s own ability to complete tasks and/or reach goals. For many individuals something has to change or connect with them to make them step back and decide that their current choices are not working for them or place them in danger. Ex: If a person truly believes they can avoid chlamydia by negotiating condom use, they are apt to be more successful in reaching their goal.

Things to consider:

  • Get tested if you don’t know your status or your partners status.
  • Think about your risk factors and what safer sex strategies you could implement.
  • Go to a reliable website to learn more about safer sex or make an appointment and learn how to protect yourself and make safer sex fun.

Sources: here and here

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HIV and Trans Women

Now that transgender issues are coming into mainstream conversation, here’s a repost of a topic that needs attention…

Nearly a fifth of the world’s transgender women are infected with HIV. A 2013 analysis compiling the results of 39 studies involving 11,000 transgender women from 15 countries came to this startling conclusion. This number is 49 times higher than the general population, 36 times higher than males and 78 times higher than other females. For the study, transgender women were defined as individuals born as biological males who currently identified as female. Transgender women who engaged in sex work were also significantly more likely to be infected with HIV than male and other female sex workers.

So why are transgender women so much more likely to contract HIV? The authors of the report offered several reasons. They believe that many of the infections occurred through unprotected anal sex. Next to direct blood to blood contact through needle sharing, anal sex is the easiest route for transmission. Anal tissue is more easily torn during anal sex than through either vaginal or oral sex. If they have had a recent vaginoplasty/vaginal construction, they are also at greater risk of infection. Transgender women are more likely to be involved with sexual partners who are infected with HIV and engage in sex work.

transgender_HIVPrevalence

The stigma, discrimination, and fear of judgement associated with being transgender are significant factors that lead to many women avoiding routine health screenings. And to make matters worse, few health care workers, HIV counselors, and physicians are trained in transgender women’s health care issues.

Hopefully, this study will help open doors to future strategies to help address this overlooked population. To read the entire article, click here.

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At the CDC, Unprotected Sex is Now Called Condomless Sex. Do You Agree With the Change?

There’s some really interesting news coming out of the Centers for Disease Control today. (Count that in the sentences I never thought I’d write.) What we know as unprotected sex – aka, sex without a condom – will now be referred to as condomless sex in their many reports and studiecondoms-colored-702455s that are both for the general public as well as for those in the public health field (like your writers at the Feronia Project.)

Why the change? Many advocates of this term say that ‘unprotected sex’ no longer reflects the many ways that people have sex: let’s take long-term couples for an example. Is a monogamous couple, who have both been tested for STIs, including HIV, really participating in ‘unprotected’ sex when having sex without a condom? (If you’re in a trustworthy relationship, I’d say no.)

Another reason? HIV prevention strategies are slowly changing. There are some promising new treatments via pill that are helping to prevent HIV that may – I must stress, may – prevent some transmission of HIV. (Do you still have HIV when you are receiving treatment that makes it almost undetectable in your blood? That is a question for someone with much more education in public health for decide.) The language change may be spurred on by these new developments, keeping up-to-date with new frontiers in HIV treatment.

So, what do you think? Is this a good change? Will it promote condomless sex or does it keep our public health terminology up-to-date? Inquiring minds want to know.

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Police Destroying Condoms

During my first day in Johannesburg, South Africa, I noticed an article in The Times, titled,“Police Destroying Condoms.” The article was based on a recent report from the Open Society Foundation. The report interviewed sex workers from Kenya, Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Russia and the US. Every country had issues with sex workers being harassed by police because they were carrying condoms.

More than 40% of sex workers in these countries said the police had taken their condoms from them. In Russia, this figure rose to 80% in some areas. In the U.S., 52% of people interviewed who identified as sex workers said they sometimes chose not to carry condoms because of stop-and-search harassment. In all six countries, the research found that police physically and sexually abuse sex workers who were found carrying condoms or used the fact that they possessed a condom as proof that they were sex workers and subject to arrest.

Because many sex workers depend on sex with strangers to feed themselves and their children, pay the rent or just for basic survival, the “no condom, no sex” rule just doesn’t apply. So they end up having unprotected sex, putting themselves and their partners at greater risk.

This is not only a health issue, but a human rights issue. Learn more about issues dealing with the rights of sex workers and HIV here.

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